A Colorado pastor and his wife have admitted to charges of stealing more than $1million from Christians via a cryptocurrency scheme, claiming God had told him people would make money through it.
Eli Regalado and his wife Kaitlyn are charged with creating and selling the cryptocurrency ‘INDXcoin’ to Christian communities in Denver, Colorado and violating anti-fraud provisions under the Colorado Securities Act.
The online church leader claimed that God told him directly that investors would become wealthy if they put money into INDXcoin, according to a Colorado Division of Securities statement and a video statement from the pastor to his followers.
Investors found INDXcoin raised nearly $3.2m (£2.5m) from more than 300 individuals, at least $1.3m of which went directly to the Regalados or was used for “their personal benefit”, according to the complaint file. The pair are alleged to have spent the funds on luxury items including handbags, jewellery and a Range Rover.
Colorado Securities Commissioner, Tung Chan, claims she filed the civil fraud charges after losing money herself through the cryptocurrency scheme.
According to the Securities Division, the couple promoted the cryptocurrency as a "low-risk, high-profit" investment opportunity. A third-party auditor described the INDXcoin code as "unsafe, unsecure and riddled with serious technical problems."
“We allege that Mr. Regalado took advantage of the trust and faith of his own Christian community and that he peddled outlandish promises of wealth to them when he sold them essentially worthless cryptocurrencies,” Chan said in a statement.
In a video statement posted on the INDXcoin community forum last week, Regalado admits pocketing $1.3m, saying the claims "are true". He goes on to say that he and his wife sold the cryptocurrency believing God would “do a miracle.”
The couple will appear in court next week.